Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gateway Pundit: So, How Bad Are Things in Iraq Really?

I sometimes feel callous thinking this way, but it is instructive to compare, as Gateway Pundit does here, the conflict in Iraq other wars America has fought.

The assertions that Iraq is a "quagmire" or a "disaster" are assertions made by mendacious hacks without reference to history or fact. Yet they have been made so often and so boldly that it has come to pass that the virtue of our actions are unjustifiably subjected to profound doubt. It does not help that people like me hesitate before speaking out, but the natural hesitation one has to declare in favor of warfare is exploited by those who would replace fact with falsehood in service of their destructive agenda. We all know who they are.

It is also wise to remind ourselves of all the reasons that we undertook the mission against Baathist Iraq, neatly summarized by Christopher Hitchens here and here. And here and here. And discussed by Captain's Quarters here. There's some talk also here. And on Power Line here, here, here, here, and here. It comes up here as well. Here's another reason, from the BBC, and something along the same lines is here. And here. Some additional reasons are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and an awful lot here. Then there's this and this. And of course this, which helped lead to this.

God bless the troops.

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"...let's not punish the kids."

This is unfortunate:

Harvard High School junior Emily Nolen learned earlier this month that the ACT examination she had spent weeks preparing for--and which she hoped would help get her into college--didn't count.

It's not quite the end of the world: she can take the exam on her own at later time. But she would have to pay for it herself, and she wouldn't be able to take the test until September, given that notice of the cancellation was not provided until after the registration deadline for the June ACT.
To ensure all students who take the test do so under the same conditions, a new rule states the ACT exams must begin by 9 a.m., according to Ed Colby, spokesman for the Iowa City-based ACT.

The six disqualified Illinois schools started the exams later than 9 a.m., according to Colby. He would not name the other schools.

This administration of the test was actually part of the Illinois State Board of Education's Prairie State Achievement Exam, the state test that all juniors must take. It goes on for two days, with the first day devoted to the ACT and the second devoted to state-developed exams.

The district is hoping to persuade ACT to reverse their decision:
Harvard School District 50 officials, who asked students to be at school by 9 a.m. and gave them breakfast before starting the exams, have appealed ACT's decision. They also are asking the Illinois State Board of Education to intervene, according to district spokesman Bill Clow.

"Our concern is, let's not punish 136 students," Clow said. "If the school or the administrators of the test made a mistake, fine. But let's not punish the kids."

This is actually quite a cock-up. It's very good of the school to provide breakfast; I know that many do so on ACT day. But the administration guidelines are pretty clear about when to start the test. The spokesman is right: the kids shouldn't be punished for this.

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Drunken Apes

The deer are coming to kill you, but don't expect help from any Hungarian apes:

Monkeys and apes at the Budapest Zoo drink their way through 55 liters of red wine each year, albeit in small quantities each day, to help boost their red blood cells, the zoo said Monday.

Budapest Zoo spokesman Zoltan Hanga said it was the 11 anthropoid apes who drank most of the wine in 2005.

"Obviously, they do not have it all at once and get drunk, but they get it in small amounts mixed in their tea," Hanga said.

Sure, you go ahead and believe that Zoltan.

Wait a minute, they get wine in their tea? They drink tea? Do you put peyote in their scones, too? If you do, then I am so there! I'll bring the chips.
"And it's not Eger Bull's Blood or some expensive wine that they are getting but simple table wine, as it's mainly good for their blood cells."

I would pay a lot of money to know why people pay a lot of money for something called Eger Bull's Blood.
Bull's Blood from the town of Eger in northeast Hungary became one of Eastern Europe's best-known wines under communism.

So these are drunken commie apes, no less!

I picture them now with glasses held high, slurring their way through L'Internationale.

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Older Students Who Need Basics Pose Challenge

This was a very interesting article about the difficulties of teaching foreign language students who, in addition to speaking little English, suffer from very poor educations in their native countries.

At a time when No Child Left Behind requires that educators ensure that all students are literate, the plight of this group illustrates the hurdles faced by even wealthy school systems such as those in Montgomery and Fairfax counties as they attempt to meet the law's mandates. Somehow, educators must help students with little formal schooling read, write and do math at the same level as the kids who arrive at school as kindergartners fluent in English.

Yes, schools must somehow figure this out. That was more or less the point of the law.

The story also contained this bizarre little nugget:
The process of teaching this group can be difficult and frustrating for students and teachers, experts say. Older teenagers such as Velasquez are so far behind that educators are trying to cram nine to 10 years' worth of learning into just a few years.

And students unaccustomed to the rigors of U.S. schools sometimes find themselves struggling with a new set of expectations.

"I like school," [Jose] Velasquez said through a translator. "There's much more opportunity here, so I want to work hard."

This kid doesn't seem frustrated at all. He seems quite enthusiatic about the opportunities a proper education can provide. But don't believe him, deep down he's "struggling" with this "difficult" and "frustrating" process.

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Rich Get Richer Because They're Smart

It's a forgotten truth, but here's an example of how intellectual activity undertaken for it's own sake can bring great rewards. In 1948, an art teacher at New Trier, a wealthy public school in north suburban Chicago, bought a painting from the U.S. government for $62.50. He used it in his classes for many years, but eventually the painting was packed away in a storeroom. The artist, Stuart Davis, eventually became famous, and the painting is now worth $ 3.1 million. The school must now decided how to spend the money.

It's valuable to remember why this happened. An art teacher who wanted a tool to help him educate his students, who took responsibility for their education, made a small investment in a painting. He didn't blame the parents for not taking their kids to museums; he didn't assume his students would find information on their own. He decided to provide the needed example himself, lugging the painting from where it hung at the school to his classroom whenever necessary.

For having teachers such as this employed at their school, New Trier will net millions of dollars. There is an object lesson there.

Of course, the Washington Post wants us all to remember that New Trier is already an elite school that probably doesn't need this windfall:

But New Trier is considered one of the elite high schools in Illinois. Its two campuses are rooted in the prosperous heart of Chicago's North Shore. An annual budget of $75 million underwrites enviable capital programs, a student-teacher ratio of 14 to 1 and an average teacher salary of $84,151. The 105-year-old school offers more than 300 courses and graduates 98.5 percent of its students, who are overwhelmingly upper middle class and white.

Yes, of course, how silly to forget this iniquity, and how foolish it would be to try and learn any lessons from the art teacher that managed to do so much for his school.

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CPS Graduation Rates Revisited

Via the District 299 CPS Blog, a graph showing the graduation rates and GPAs of CPS grads at several Illinois colleges.

What rankles is the low graduation rate at some schools, even for kids with high GPAs in high school. Someone is not telling the truth: either the GPAs are inflated, or the colleges are telling the students, somehow, that their work isn't up to standards and that they might consider different plans. I really don't think it's the latter.

For those who think testing is discriminatory, this chart reminds us that a GPA is not a reliable sole measure of ability. Notice in the chart that only 20% of the kids with a 3.5 GPA that attended Northeastern Illinois University graduated in six years, while 90% of the kids with the same GPA that went to Northwestern graduated in six years.

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France Is Burning Again

Youth in France are rioting again, and one of the kids involved in the incident that sparked last fall's riots has been arrested for participating.

One of the young men briefly detained Tuesday night for throwing stones at police was also involved in the incident that sparked last year's riots. He was injured and two other youths were killed--all electrocuted--as they hid from police in a power substation.

The A.P. article appearing in the Washington Post describes the rioters as being of "immigrant origin", but I'm thinking these kids ain't Polish. The story concludes with this:
Tension in Montfermeil has remained high since the mayor last month banned teenagers from circulating in groups of more than three, and ordered youths under 16 to be accompanied by an adult in public. A court later overturned the bans after protests from civil liberties groups.

Here's some additional backstory that the A.P. thought too unimportant to report. First, the ban was overturned after complaints from civil liberties groups, suggesting that even in France civil liberties have been redefined as an absolute restriction on group self-defense. Last Monday, the mayor who issued the ban witnessed a group of "youths" attack a bus driver. The "youth" was identified by the mayor and arrested.

After the arrest, "youths" began the riots. They burned cars, "fought riot police for more than four hours, petrol-bombing buildings and smashing the windows of the town hall before gathering outside the mayor's house, which they pelted with bricks." The mayor and his family are now under police protection.

There's an additional quote here that I find depressing: "'Last night was not a real crisis, it wasn't that violent,' police spokesman Patrick Hamon said by telephone. 'It is too early to say what this might become.'"

This is known as defining social collapse down. It was a crisis when the mayor and his family were targeted with mass violence for turning in a kid who attacked a bus driver.

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For Whom The Daley Tolls

An update on the Chicago city hall corruption trial. Apparently, Daley's supporters worked very hard to ensure that Chicago Skyway tollbooths were fully staffed so that the Mayor would not suffer delays when travelling to his summer home in Michigan.

That anecdote came as defense attorneys for four former Daley administration officials charged with rigging the city's hiring and promotions process tried to attack [Streets and Sanitation director of personnel Jack] Drumgould's credibility.


In testimony last week, Drumgould said he hired a tollbooth collector at the recommendation of state Rep. Kevin Joyce (D-Chicago), son of longtime Daley political strategist Jeremiah Joyce. The employee later had to be disciplined for banging his head against the tollbooth wall, Drumgould said.

He really expects us to believe that an unionized, goverment job was hard to fill? Now I want to bang my against a wall.
Drumgould said Harry Osterman, who preceded him as personnel director, advised him to keep the tollbooths fully staffed to avoid angering the mayor. Daley and his wife, Maggie, live in the South Loop but own a vacation home in Grand Beach, Mich.

Osterman, now a Democratic state representative, did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

What a reassuring career path Mr. Osterman has had. No doubt men like him are the reason government works so well.
Also Tuesday, an official in the Streets and Sanitation Department's Bureau of Electricity testified that he fixed the hiring process for jobs to make sure that openings went to people on lists he received from Drumgould.

The official, Hugh Donlan, testified that the names passed on by Drumgould came from the mayor's office originally.

Job interviews and qualifications did not factor into who got the jobs, Donlan said.

"There were other people who were more qualified for these positions," he said.

Donlan testified that he gave the highest ratings for general foreman openings in 2004 to six people whose names came from the mayor's office even though he said he believes that three were not qualified.

Donlan said one man became a general foreman of linemen despite having two one-month suspensions for disciplinary problems. The man now earns more than $90,000 a year.

I was amused by the tollbooth story, and for that reason I read this article first this morning, but seriously, they saved this for last? A person who has been suspended for two months out of at most the last two years (he was hired in 2004) both still has his job and makes over $90,000 a year plus government benefits? I want my taxes back.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Netherlands Fading Away

I do not think that this -- "[m]ore and more people leave the Netherlands to settle abroad; the number of emigrants for 2005 and 2004 totalled 121 thousand and 110 thousand respectively" -- is entirely unrelated to this -- "[p]edophiles to launch political party".

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Another lgf Death Threat Update

little green footbals is still being stalked, obessessively, by someone at Reuters. He suffered 20 hits over eight hours, covering a time period that roughly corresponds to the work day in London, where the contacts originated.

It is very odd behavior, for which the only rational explanation is a single router ip used by many people in an office. I am inclined to doubt rational explanations for the behavior of politicized muslims and the useful idiots who indulge them.

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The Fantastic Da Vinci Code War Of The Worlds

Appropos of a comment on this site, referring to comments at Quoth the Maven and Plein Air Sketches, some data on the box offcie results for The Da Vinci Code: Weekend Box Office Results, May 26–28, 2006. The film suffered a drop-off of 55% from it's opening weekend, which is not unusual for a heavily promoted summer movies. The trouble is, this puts The Da Vinci Code in the company of movies like The Fantastic Four and The War Of The Worlds. Like The Da Vinci Code, these movies benefited from incessant promotion, a tie-in to a known vehicle, and in the case of The War Of The Worlds, a the presence of a top-flight star. Like The Da Vinci Code, these movies lost about 55% of their business in their second weekend, and then descended rapidly towards oblivion. The primary defect of these movies was that they were silly in the extreme (see Roger Ebert's review), and once their built-in fan base had indulged themselves the theaters emptied out.

So my prediction holds to a point. I had said I thought The Da Vinci Code would fail miserably. It's failure was not miserable, but it has still failed. It joins the evergrowing list of movies that everyone got agitated about at their opening only to be considered a few weeks later a waste of a $9.00 ticket. The legacy of The Da Vinci Code will not benefit the novel: it will now be known to many as that book they made the stupid movie about.

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Cubs Mom

The Chicago Cubs are caught in doldrums so severe that no escape can be envisioned. On Sunday, they lost in 11 innings, at home, despite having scored 12 runs; problematically, they gave up 8 home runs to the Atlanta Braves. On Friday they lost when two runners scored on a sac fly. Let me repeat that: two runners scored on a sac fly.

But perhaps the most telling indicator of just how miserable the team is this year is this story. It seems last Friday some hecklers were on right fielder Jacque Jones' case, as many have been all year, after he dropped a ball in the sun, thus wrecking a Carlos Zambrano no-hit bid.

The hecklers started yelling and a woman few rows away, Jacque Jones' mother, gave them a good talking to. Security was involved, but apparently they decided not to throw the hecklers out because they were sitting in manager Dusty Baker's seats.

Remember when you were little and your mom told you that if something bad happened to go and find a mom, that whatever the problem was a mom would help you? Like if you saw a kid getting beat up, you could go find a mom and she'd stop the fight and sort things out? Remember that?

Things are so bad at Wrigley that the Cubs have to go and a find a mom.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Because I Can

I wanted to see how easy it was to post videos on blogger, and apparently it's very easy, at least with Google Video.

In honor of the occasion, a sexy party!

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Hugo Chavez & Pals

In the Canada Free Press, a succint description of Hugo Chavez and of the American left:

It is said that Senor Chavez is a social democrat and if that is true, being one means coddling narco-terrorists, driving the Catholic Church out of large areas of the interior, suspending civil rights, censoring the press, packing the ballot box, pre-programming the electronic ballot counting machines, roughing up political opponents, providing funds to terrorists, non-stop propaganda from the television stations, and his packing the legislature with cronies and yes-men.


But for Mr. Chavez, regardless of the setbacks, Cindy Sheehan calls incessantly to say she loves him, Belafonte still calls with messages of hope, and Jimmy Carter calls occasionally to inquire about the electronic ballot counting machines, sends his love, and says Rosalind says so, too.

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Are The Ducks Really On Our Side?

First it was the deer, now it's the ducks. Though the ducks at least have the decency to only eat aliens.

So far!

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Testing Is The Messenger

Via Phi Beta Cons, an excellent discussion at Opinion Journal about why SAT scores have fallen. The author makes a point with which I heartily agree, that the reason test scores have declined is not because the test is unfair, but instead because American students are poorly educated in math and reading:

That the new SAT tests more reading comprehension than the old test did is a good thing. Colleges complain that their incoming students don't have sufficient skills to read and analyze the kind of material that their professors will assign them. I hope that the new SAT's emphasis will make students realize that you can't get much of an education if you can't read.

Maybe the decline in SAT scores will force people to notice that their children are not getting good educations. If your children don't read or do math, why would you think that they would do well on the SAT? I would love to get into a time machine and go back to 1960 and give this new SAT to high-school students back then. I suspect that they would do much better than today's students. If we want people to get good scores on the SAT, I have a suggestion. Stop complaining about how unfair the test is and do your homework.

There is one point on which I can offer some additional background. The author responds to people who say that scores have declined because the newest version of the test (introduced in 2004) is about an hour longer than previous versions by saying that his own students show no decline in performance in later sections than in earlier ones. I take this to mean that a kid who misses 8 questions in the first verbal section misses the same proportion of questions in the last verbal section.

I can attest that his experience is not unusual. I have analyzed a sufficient number of student tests (in the thousands) and there is, with the exception of a few outliers, no difference in an individual's performance on the last section of a given type than on the first section of that type. The student's performance is entirely related to the content of the question and how well they have learned that content. If a test contains 10 geometry questions, and the studenty knows plenty of geometry, it is probable that he or she will 8 of the 10 correctly, regardless of when they appear in the test.

What students tend to report is that they get tired later in the test. This report is probably what creates the myth of the over-long test, once parents start to gossip about their kids' SATs. What the kids don't realize, perhaps, and what the parents don't want to know, is that this is usually preemptive excuse making. Their is no decline in actual performance in the latter parts of the exam.

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"It's going to cost us as a country either way."

My wife is an immigrant who obeyed the rules when coming over from Russia. She is not amused by the attempts to void her efforts by granting amnesty to millions of illegals. Via Illinoize, an article in the Chicago Defender about a forum on immigration at Olive-Harvey College that includes this passage:

David Simmons, an African American who is part of theatrical production at Olive-Harvey, said the immigration issue is one that's very difficult for him to struggle with.

"It's going to cost us as a country either way," Simmons said. "It's cheaper to make them citizens than to deport them and go through all of that drama.

"But I don't like the idea of illegal immigrants coming to America and getting the jobs that we can do, only because they will accept less money for those jobs. It's makes it harder for those American families who are willing to work hard just to survive with the prices of everything going up anyway."

It is a falsehood that illegal immigrants do jobs that Americans won't do. They take jobs from poor Americans and from legal immigrants. It is also a falsehood that we are a nation of immigrants. Or rather, it is false in that it is incomplete. We are a nation of immigrants who became Americans, who each earned his or her place in this country. An illegal immigrant has not earned his or her place; he or she has stolen it, and worse, cheapened what others have gone through to earn their place.

Unless of course, being an American doesn't mean anything but paying sales taxes and collecting medicare. Check the date of this post, if you really think that's true.

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Again, Never Again

The story about an Iranian law that would require religious minorities to wear special badges, which I last mentioned here, is discussed by Caroline Glick in this Jerusalem Post article.

Yet the National Post story last Friday, and the storms it caused both before and after its inaccuracy was brought to light, point to a much greater problem than any single Iranian decision regarding what Iranians of various religions must wear.


Since the Vietnam War era, a disturbing notion has been accepted by wide swathes of the peoples of the Western world and has become a writ of faith among Western academic and governing elites. That notion is that the last just war was the Second World War and that the last enemy that deserved to be defeated utterly was Nazi Germany. Only Hitler constituted an implacable foe. This conclusion, which was seamlessly grafted onto the pacifist worldview of the radical Left in Europe and the US in the 1960s, and of the Israeli Left in the 1990s, holds that still today, the only enemy that the West can conscionably fight is Adolf Hitler.

Ms. Glick is on to something: read the whole thing.

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More Ward Churchill At Pirate Ballerina

Pirate Ballerina has a couple of posts (here and here) with updates on America's favorite left-wing phony , Ward Churchill.

One is a commentary from an academic who restates the obvious, but since he's a University of Colorado professor, it represents a victory:

A careful reading of the original report, next to [Churchill's] response, shows him to have misstated and ignored the committee's findings at every stage. Indeed, one might almost laugh at the way his slipshod responses re-enact the very sorts of intellectual failings that the report originally highlighted.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

"Pregnant women: Give me drugs"

An article from the Sun-Times that Mrs. Occidentality, currently expecting our first child, is certain to appreciate:

Pregnant women: Give me drugs

Having a baby without pain-killing drugs, once the goal of many laboring mothers, has become a rarity at American hospitals. Only 6 percent of women in large hospitals and 12 percent in small hospitals opted for drug-free births in 2001, according to a recent study in the journal Anesthesiology.

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It's A Baby Girl For Brangelina

The Brangelina has spawned a girl child. I advise you to buy canned foods and bottled water, and to invest your life savings in gold.

UPDATE: Apparently, the name of the child is Shiloh. This spells doom. Shiloh is a biblical location where the Israelites gathered and built a sanctuary for the Ark of the Covenant. The freaking Ark of the Covenant, people!! She is a vessel for the laws of God Himself.

The name also references the Battle of Shiloh, a representative instance of the horror and carnage of the American Civil War.

The laws of God and horror and carnage. As I suspected, this kid pretty much means armageddon.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Fenatnyl & Heroin Across America

I've written in the past about the rash of deaths attributed to fentanyl overdoses. Michigan Wire has a round-up of similar phenomena in other cities. Health officials in various cities are trying to warn addicts, but that may in fact be counter-productive:

But to some drug users, the warnings are in fact an advertisement.

"When they hear about people OD-ing somewhere, they want to go there" to get the more potent drugs, said Larry, the Detroit heroin user.

That's what New Jersey officials found last month. "The drug addicts were actually looking for the drug, so what we did was actually counterproductive," said Marcus, the poison control director.

Like Larry, 37-year-old Latonja, of Detroit, said she would do her best to stay away from the tainted heroin by sticking to dealers she knows. However, she acknowledged it may be difficult, since users can never know for sure what they're buying.

"We're not analyzers when we're trying to shoot our dope," said Latonja, who also asked that her last name not be used. "We're like, 'OK, it's time to get happy.'"

The stories are best read in conjunction with Theodore Dalrymple's reflections on heroin addiction and crime. Dalrymple, a former prison doctor, writes:
Heroin doesn't hook people; rather, people hook heroin. It is quite untrue that withdrawal from heroin or other opiates is a serious business, so serious that it would justify or at least mitigate the commission of crimes such as mugging. Withdrawal effects from opiates are trivial, medically speaking (unlike those from alcohol, barbiturates or even, on occasion, benzodiazepines such as valium), and experiment demonstrates that they are largely, though not entirely, psychological in origin. Lurid descriptions in books and depictions in films exaggerate them à la De Quincey (and also Coleridge, who was a chronic self-dramatizer).

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Standardized Child Flaws

The most serious flaw in the standardized testing regime in this country is that standardized tests are taken by children:

It was first reported by Inklings, the Staples High School newspaper, that during this year's AP Economics exam several students who did not wish to participate in the exams willingly sabotaged their tests by entering "C" for all multiple choice questions and in the free response portion of the exam they entered profanities or drawings.

What is so bizarre about their behavior is that AP exams are voluntary. You are not penalized if you fail to do well; instead, you will simply fail to benefit by having one less college class to take. What were these kids thinking?

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lgf Death Threat Update

Via InstaPundit, the Reuters employee who threatened Charles Johnson has been suspended pending an investigation. Or at least some employee has been suspended; it is unclear to me whether the employee whose account was used is the same employee who was suspended.

What remains to be answered is how someone who is so contemptuous of lgf can be trusted on a task force to track muslim extremism, which is basically what lgf does on its own.

Of course, the task force could just be a smoke screen, but that would imply that Reuters was untrustworthy, and that's just crazy talk.

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Inside Higher Ed :: Churchill Fallout : It's About Academic Freedom

Via Pirate Ballerina, a response written by Dennis Baron to Anne Neal's response to critics of ACTA's "How Many Ward Churchills" report.

Baron seems convinced that despite having found reprehensible scholarship, the Churchill committee findings and ACTA's report are attempts to silence the noble academic.

As noted at Pirate Ballerina, the very first comment sums up why Baron's arguments themselves are somewhat wide of the truth:

You're right [referring to Baron]: Honesty and facts mean nothing in the contemporary academy anymore. We have long since known this, but some of the public may yet not have grasped this basic fact. Let's be very forthright about it and celebrate Churchill. He stands for everything the colleges and universities in this country have made themselves over the last few decades. Make him president of the university and be done with it.

Let everyone know just how absolutely degraded the universities have become: Fashionable lies, theft, and wholesale facribation suffice to guarantee hiring and tenure, and no questions may ever be asked about them, not ever. Let no one be confused about what goes on in university classrooms, and about why scholars and teachers have been replaced by open and celebrated frauds. The purge of responsible scholars and dedicated teachers in favor of ideological frauds is almost complete: Congratulations on the damage done to what was once an honored profession.

The comments devolve into an argument between people with common sense and people with tenure. The most outrageous comment was this, from a Baron supporter:
The reason that there are so many more left-leaning people in academia is not because they've been chosen for those views by other left-leaning academics, nor because they've been indoctrinated into their views by academic experience.

The avoided elephant in the room here is the fact that clearminded thought, research, and work into the complexities of human experience leads one toward left-leaning views. That's because left-leaning views acknowledge the context-bound complexity of social experience much more fully than do views from the right. The right offers simple interpretations and answers, while the left offers much more complex ones, again because it acknowledges more fully the complexity of human experience.

Conservatives have suffered this argument for decades, and the price of considering oneself part of the conservative movement includes hearing such piffle from insufferable snobs like Dennis Baron.

The argument made by the commenter can be disproved, but this is not the problem with it. It is that he can make it with a straight face and know that many others will nod their heads sagely in agreement, despite it's overt untruthfulness.

Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate, I was listening to a sports talk radio show. The host made the claim that "no team ever won a World Series without power and speed at 1st and 3rd base." Within seconds callers phoned in with obvious examples that disproved the point. The host very embarrassingly backed down.

The trouble with academics is they don't have enough callers.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

"Peace Activists" Try To Get Soldiers Killed

Via Sweetness & Light, the story of protesters trying to block the delivery of armored vehicles to Iraq. What charming people. You can also find additional photos here.

The photo is of a truck driver giving the protester a piece of his mind.

The original caption reads: Shouting, "don’t do that again" a truck driver hauling a military cargo container cautions one of approximately 40 Iraq war protesters after the protester slammed his sign down on the driver’s semi fender.

I think this photo and the circumstances around it say as much about our political situation as any essay could.

UPDATE: Added photo

UPDATE 2: More at Gateway Pundit.

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More Blogspulsion has has an article on the Plainfield student facing expulsion. My own comments are here.

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ACTA Responds To The Academics It Has Scared

Before commencing, I would like to note that tenured professors cannot be fired.

At Inside Higher Ed, Anne Neal posts a response to critics of ACTA's report, "How Many Ward Chruchills".

If ACTA’s report has a take-home message for academics, it is that they urgently need to justify to a skeptical public why their work deserves special protections. Only then, ironically, will they have a chance of preserving the independence they cherish. With transparency comes respect; with accountability comes autonomy.

There are extensive and interesting comments, which boil down to academics comlaining about methodology, as I had predicted, and others demanding that academics answer the charges instead of whining that the report is beneath their standards. My favorite comment is this one, from R.A.S.:
" .. The ACTA report remains a blatant exercise in cherry-picking course titles and descriptions that sound "leftist" .."

Are you [referring to the commenter quoted above] suggesting that Grover Furr is not a Stalin apologist? Are you suggesting that Angela Davis is just another, run-of-the-mill professor? Are you suggesting that Billy Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn sat out the Vietnam War?

What’s next? Trying to convince us, Larry Summers isn’t an economist who worked for Clinton?

Country-western music has it right — "Denial is not a river in Egypt."

Deer Are Just Mean

The Chicago Tribune today investigates an epidemic of marauding deer Illinois:

Three times on Tuesday, a single white-tailed doe launched unprovoked attacks on passersby, including a campus police officer. She charged her victims repeatedly, reared on her hind legs and slashed them with her sharp front hooves in a maneuver called the "beat down," usually reserved for predators like wolves or coyotes.

"Call me Bambi one more time and I'll cut you bitch!"
SIU wildlife ecologist Clay Nielsen, who on Thursday dispensed safety tips for humans at a campus seminar titled "Avoiding Deer-Human Encounters of the Third Kind," thinks as many as three does may be to blame in attacks this year and last.

The deer are working together to defeat us. This is alarming.
With an estimated 30 million deer in North America, there are hundreds of thousands of deer-human encounters every year. But most involve cars or hunting weapons, and the deer are the ones on the losing end. On rare occasions, frisky bucks have been known to take out their frustrations on a convenient human during the fall rutting season.

And do they call afterwards? No. Do they remember your name when you see them again at Starbucks? No.

If you don't know what "rutting" means, please look it up. Then sit down and ponder what it means to have that word in the same sentence as the phrase "take out their frustrations on a convenient human".

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A Teacher's View On Student Blogs

Right on the Left Coast offers this philosophy on student blogs:

For the most part, I would like schools to focus more on what students do at school (get to class on time, act appropriately) than what they do outside of school (online activities, partying). If our schools spent more time on the 3 R's and less time on self-esteem, on wallowing in family issues, and on helping kids hide abortions from their parents, one would think that a lot more academic education would take place.

What kids put on their Myspace accounts is not the school's business--unless the students make it the school's business by threatening school personnel, by bragging about school vandalism, etc.

His sentiments are the same as mine, but note the tricky part about some content being something the school has a right to care about. Things like this always get tricky in the details.

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Little Green Footballs Gets Reuters Hate Mail

LGF catches a jihadi hate mailer at Reuters. A great read.

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Da Vinci Code Presuppositions

Janet at Quoth the Maven (a great blog name) has some interesting comments on The Da Vinci Code here and here.

The latter discusses a presupposition about The Da Vinci Code of which she cautions Christians to be wary:

When we buy into the presupposition "It's only fiction" (shorthand for "--and therefore not worth being taken seriously"), we buy into one of the biggest fallacies afoot in our pseudo-scientific age.

The power of story is almost unparalleled in getting people to change their beliefs, their actions, their behaviors, their opinions. When we deny its power, we (a) make ourselves more open to being manipulated by it and (b) abrogate the power available to us as storytellers.

This mirrors something that Elizabeth said at Plein Air Sketches:
And if you think for a second that The Da Vinci Code is not believable, then please join me at our next teen group discussion at St. Patrick's here in Scottsdale, Arizona. You will meet a generation of kids from our public high schools who are reading The Da Vinci Code as an example of historical fiction, and they believe it to be an accurate rendition of historical fact, not fiction.

That's what raises the hair on the back of my neck.

I agree that saying "it's just a book" is inappropriately dissmissive, and that there is danger in letting falsehoods spread unchallenged. But I believe that Qouth the Maven's arguments suffer by making some false comparisons that prevent us from perceiving actual influence The Da Vinci Code might have.

To make her point she lists several books and movies which had a profound influence on history despite their being "only fiction", "only a movie", or "only a book". The gist of her argument is that The Da Vinci Code may prove as influential as these other works.

One of the books is Mein Kampf. That book, or rather the content of that book, cannot be credited with influencing the events in Germany in the 1920's and 30's. It is a compilation of neurotic ravings the import of which is not the ravings themselves, but the fact they were compiled in a book. The book's intent was to lend credibility to the Nazi party, and while it served that purpose, we primarily remember because it is an artifact of that age, and not because it's content itself was influential. The Nazis came to prominence and power due to a combination of Hitler's oratory and the party's violent machinations. I don't think the book itself is what mattered, as it was only a small piece of a centrally controlled political attack.

The one movie she mentions is Birth of a Nation. It is unfortunate that this movie has the reputation it does, because its meaning to D.W. Griffith is misrepresented. It was not intended to support the Klan, or foster their rebirth, but to sentimentalize the story of the losing side in the civil war. This was Griffith's goal, and while we ought to decry his callousness and his indifference to racism, we ought not assume that the intent of his movie can be proven by the movie's effect. Also, unlike the Da Vinci Code, the movie was inherently political in that its subject was politics. Whatever people took from it could only be applied in the political realm, as that was the subject of the story. The Da Vinci Code is about what we know about Christ in the past, and unlike politics, scholarly theology and history is not a realm in which many people live. I doubt their will be rallies supporting legislation to defend the mystic feminine.

Two more of the books, Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Jungle, were intended as political works. They were intended to provoke a particular political reaction. That they were successful in doing so is a testament to the talent and passion of the authors. The Da Vinci Code, however, cannot be said to be pointing to a specific result. Perhaps to a vague distrust of Catholics, but not to a specific result around which people can rally.

Additionally, both books were fictionalizations of journalistic investigations; they were believable because people could see with their own eyes the things that the authors spoke of. The Da Vinci code is only believable because people don't know any better. Unlike The Jungle and Uncle Tom's Cabin, anyone who investigates the claims of The Da Vinci Code further will find only that its claims are utterly preposterous.

The last book she mentions is The Lord of the Rings. As with The Jungle and Uncle Tom's Cabin, the Da Vinci Code compares poorly to the The Lord of the Rings, and for a similar reason. The Lord of the Rings is powerful because it is true on an extraordinarily deep level, and this truth will be apparent to those who seek to understand their own heart. One who begins to examine their souls having read The Lord of the Rings will find that the book is wise in ways the reader had not even imagined. One who examines their faith as a result of reading The Da Vinci Code will only discover the extent of its falsehoods.

I am perhaps too optimistic, but I would point out that each of the books she mentioned have had very different degrees of influence over the years. Mein Kampf can be disregarded because the book per se was not influential; that it was written by the most notorious and evil dictator of the 2oth century makes it appear to have been influential when in truth it probably was not. Griffith is today vilified because of Birth of a Nation, despite his intentions with that movie and the virtue of all his other work. But The Jungle and Uncle Tom's Cabin still influence us, and reading them is central to understanding or political circumstances. The power of The Lord of the Rings to edify and convert is as strong now as it ever was.

In considering why this is I am reminded of the different results one gets from planting in one kind of soil versus another. A seed planted in fertile soil will grow on it's own almost without assitance, but one planted in infertile soil will with wither away. The three works that still influence us today not only intended to be influential, but are rooted in solid fact or profound wisdom. This soil allows them to grow and influence us even today. Not only is The Da Vinci Code not intended to be influential in any particular way, but it is rooted in soil so sterile that it aspires to someday be sand.

It is not wrong to worry about the influence of The Da Vinci Code, but I also think it wise to recognize where it stands as a book; as it is best to know one's enemy, we ought to consider what actual influence the book will have. Quoth the Maven is correct to remind us that the phrase "it's just a book" is too dismissive to let stand, but I think we ought to consider what makes a book influential, and whether The Da Vinci Code has any of those qualities. It takes more than pages stuffed between a cover to make a book influential in a profound way.

My own prediction is that The Da Vinci Code will soon be remembered solely as a good read, and the influence it has will be to instill in people's minds many incorrect facts about Christ. But it will not, it cannot, introduce any lies that Christians have not already heard. There is nothing new under the sun.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

CPS Budget Cuts

Via the District 299 Chicago Public Schools Blog, a press release from the Chicago Public Schools announcing the next round of budget cuts. Much gnashing of teeth will no doubt follow.

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Those Deer Are So Mean

From the Chicago Tribune: "Victim of deer attack last year sues Southern Illinois University":

A woman who was among those injured in a series of deer attacks last year on Southern Illinois University's campus says she's suing the school, arguing officials didn't do enough to protect her.

Zhimin "Nancy" Wang, a doctoral student from China, was among the first of four people who sustained mostly minor injuries in the separate attacks during last June's fawning season, when officials say mother does tend to be more aggressive in protecting offspring.

The school probably can't be held responsible for deer being deer, but the dean shouldn't have given the deer tequila shooters, or yelled "Catfight!" once the attack started, or tried to sell the video to "Does Gone Wild".
Deer confronted three other people last year, with most of the encounters happening in or near the campus' sprawling Thompson Woods.

Of course the deer confronted them: they borrowed the deer's iPod and didn't give it back. You can't let that go unchallenged or people will just walk all over you.
More deer attacks were reported on the campus Tuesday. In separate instances a deer, perhaps the same one, caused minor injuries to three people as they were on a footpath along the school's Campus Lake.

It's a shame when one bad deer hurts the reputation of all of them. And what makes them think it was the same deer? Did it have a gang tattoo?

This is why God gave us deer hunting season.

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Communist Criminals Finally Punished

From Radio Polnia, by way of FreeRepublic, the Polish Minister of Defense government has announced that former Communist henchmen will be losing their pensions.

The action mostly embraces high military intelligence officers and prosecutors of the post war Stalinist era found guilty of crimes against the opposition. Their wrongs have been evaluated by courts and their guilt proven.


For long years their bank accounts have been regularly supplied with high pensions, their sums being four, five or even more times that of the average retired bread earners from among the thousands they had persecuted.

The post-war period was a dark and savage time in Poland, and those responsible for it should not be allowed to profit further.

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Illinois Kids Flunk Basic Science Test

Via the District 299 Chicago Public Schools Blog, this article about the National Assessment of Educational Progress science exam.

Here's the key discrepancy: 30% of Illinois students passes the NAEP, but nearly 75% passed the state science exams.

Ginger Reynolds, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning for the Illinois State Board of Education, cautioned against reading too much into the national test results.

"The results are important and we will look closely at them," she said. "But our focus is on the state test because we know that teachers align their curricula to the state exams. The state test results show that our schools are teaching according to the learning standards that we have adopted as a state."

To put this in perspective, here's a sample question as from the NAEP 8th grade exam, as described in the Tribune:
An 8th-grade question told students that two glasses of water looked identical. "Explain what Maria could do, without tasting the water, to find out which glass contains salt water." One answer: Evaporate the water from the glasses. The salt will remain.

Do you expect your 8th grader to know this? Does the Illinois state curriculum?

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Chicago Teacher Suspended Over Racial Comment

A Chicago music teacher has been suspended for directing a racial remark to a 6th grade student. From the Chicago Tribune:

The school decided on the punishment for the Skinner Elementary teacher in late April--six months after the pupil's parents reported the incident to Principal Deborah Clark and other district administrators, Clark said.

Skinner is apparently a fairly elite magnet school, though in Chicago "elite" doesn't always mean as much as you might think.
Priscilla Dixon had asked for her son to be removed from the teacher's class, but the district refused, saying that music was required curriculum, according to correspondence between the parent and the district.

A good music teacher is hard to find. Think how many times in an emergency you've yelled, "Get me an elementary school music teacher," only to be rewarded with silence. Those recorders won't play themselves!
"The investigation into allegations that music teacher Florina Cupsa told your son that, 'You're a black boy and you need to learn your place in my classroom,' or words to that effect, has been completed and substantiated," wrote district general counsel Patrick Rocks in a Feb. 9 letter to Dixon. "Apparently, this inappropriate comment was made by the teacher when she was disciplining your son and a few other students."

I think it is reasonable to interpret this as, "Yeah, she said it, but she lost her temper when your kid acted up. We'll take action and keep an eye on her, but we're not going to let the kid who misbehaved think he can get a teacher fired."
The allegation was substantiated by interviews with the 6th grader and his classmates, some of whom wrote essays because they were upset by the remarks, Dixon and Clark said.

The minute she was essayed, the teacher was doomed.
"He doesn't feel safe there anymore," said Dixon of her son, who is transferring next year. "I don't think he'll ever trust people in positions of authority."

"Ever"? She doesn't think he'll "ever" trust people in authority? Sounds good to me. He'll probably be a conservative when he grows up.

To be honest, I get the sense that this parent feels ostracized for reasons other than this comment. She has three kids at the school, but is terribly angry at Skinner, saying "[a]nyone who's not a cheerleader [for the school] is vilified." I think there is some back story we're not getting.

Here's the key paragraph, which also provides some insight.
"Clark said Wednesday that she didn't fire Cupsa because she has "great potential" as a musician and as a teacher. Clark said the teacher, a native of Romania, is struggling with classroom management and "cultural issues." Clark says she doesn't believe Cupsa made the comment out of any racial animosity."

Sometimes immigrants just don't see the white/black issues, or especially the language issues, that cause so many problems in this country. Their lessons on these matters are usually learned painfully.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Not Reporting

From, another example of a reporter who just isn't trying. Do they not think anyone reads their work, or do they get some kind of reward for saying what they say despite its untruthfulness? Or are they simply bad at what they do?

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PirateBallerina's Footnotes & Fallacies

Or more precisely, Ward Churchill's. Pirate Ballerina has begun a detailed analysis of Ward Churchill's Summary of Fallacies, which is his response to UC Boulder's investigation of his scholarship. It worth reading solely for the entertainment value.

Imagine a man walking busily down a sidewalk, brushing people aside as he goes, oblivious to his own rudeness. Then he slips on a banana peel and falls flat on his butt, only to look up to find a crowd of people laughing at him. We've all seen a sequence like this before, in movies or comedy skits, and it's because it resonates as an object lesson. It reminds us that we should not be utterly oblivious to those around us, or those around us will take great pleasure in watching us fall.

Ward Churchill's saga is another kind of object lesson, because now that we have a detailed investigation of his work we can take great pleasure in seeing his mendacity exposed. Lurking in the shadows of academe he was able to indulge his intellectual vices. He no longer enjoys that luxury.

Pirate Ballerina's analysis merely compares what Churchill claims the committee report says to what the report actually says. Despite it's simplicity it is remarkably powerful.

Recall the common dream of showing up for a test only to find it's written in a language you don't understand. Ward Churchill's Summary of Fallacies is what that dream looks like when it actually happen to someone. Churchill himself is the only one who doesn't see that he is utterly unequipped for his circumstance.

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Gapers Block -- Looking Over Your Xanga

The Plainfield South controversy gets I described in Blogspulsion? gets a mention over at Gapers Block:

In more School Boards vs. Blogs news, a 17-year-old student in Plainfield School District 202 has been suspended and threatened with expulsion because of his criticism on his blog of the school's disciplining of another student. His site isn't accessible from the school's computers, but administrators are saying that his comments caused "a disturbance at school".

They link this article in the Chicago Tribune.

It's just a blurb, but I think it too superficially characterizes what happened. "Criticism" is bloodless when compared to the actual post, and unjustifiably elevates its adolescent vulgarity. Referring to "the school's disciplining of another student" as a descriptor of the activities, an act of petty arson and threatening statements which named a school official, rather understates the actions. He wasn't just smoking in the parking lot. Finally, Gaper's Block frames the issue in terms of the school visiting a place that has been blocked by the school's own computers. This buys into a theme that I saw on the student pages. They were generally stupefied by the fact administrators went to Xanga at all, and assumed they must have done so after hours on their own time out of sheer boredom.

It apparently didn't occur to them that administrators at the school might have a different level of security on the network, or that officials felt it was necessary to review Xanga because it related to their duties as officials. Further, there is an entire blog ring devoted to the school at Xanga, linked to dozens of student sites. Having viewed just a handful I can say that there are probably a number of students at that school who would be unamused by fires in the bathroom and vague, aggressive open letters to the school. It is not at all unlikely that the officials who found the site did so after being notified by another student.

Again, I think none of the talk about free speech makes a lot of sense until we understand the underlying activities that took place on these blogs. I don't think this is a simple issue at all, and it wearies to see all these stories pop-up that fail to do justice to the back story at Plainfield.

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More Ward Churchill

Many Ward Churchill updates at PriateBallerina, including a post from May 23 that informs us of that the Revolutionary Communist Party (!) has, unsurprisingly, come out on Churchill's side. The ethic of personal freedom inherent in communism no doubt drives this stance.

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MySpace My Speech

FIRE comments on the issue of schools monitoring student blogs on places like Xanga (spefically they mention MySpace).

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More Children Left Behind

The Washington Post runs a comment today that argues children not getting the tutoring they have a right to under NCLB. Here's the key point:

These school administrators claim that of the 1.4 million children eligible for such tutoring during the past school year, only 233,000 (17 percent) had parents and guardians who found this offer worthy of acceptance. All the rest apparently declined free tutoring for their children.

That is simply preposterous.

My experience from working with several states is that a combination of bitterness and bureaucratic sclerosis has conspired to make working with a district to effectively tutor their students nearly impossible. The regulations they thrust upon the tutoring companies are onerous. The districts, partly because they must, partly because they can, require tutoring companies to log so many details that it is nearly impossible to tutor students profitably, given the cost of compiling the required data. The districts are also quite horrible at getting tutors basic information that is needed to meet these requirements, like class lists. It would be similar to the IRS demanding tax returns but not printing up any forms. One district required everybody to record all of their SES information online, but their SES website, which cost them millions of dollars to develop, was down half the time.

The only way to break even at tutoring is to have 80% attendance, which actually can happen with younger kids when the on-site school liaison does his or her job.

The schools themselves are often uncooperative, even disruptive. They fail to notify parents of the opportunity to enroll students in tutoring classes, they notify parents only on behalf of companies who have a special relationship with a principal and ignore every other company, they fail to administer the programs within the guidelines set by their own district, and they fail to complete the tasks needed to ensure the students are tested.

It's really something of a joke, and Hickok is, in my experience, right to assign blame to schools and districts.

The commentary is written by Eugene Hickok of Dutko Worldwide and is no favorite of the Schools Matter blog, a status I suggest lends great credibility to his arguments.

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2006 Merit Scholarship Winners

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. has announced its 2006 winners. There qere 7 winners from Chicago, pop. 2,869,121; there were 13 winners from Naperville, IL, pop. 137, 894.

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Nap Time, Please!

Please guys, I'm beggin' ya, take a nap!

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Lincoln Park Hit & Run

A few days a go, a little girl was killed in a hit and run accident. The driver was arraigned on Tuesday and the Sun-Times provides some backgroubd.

He appears to suffer from a very disturbed psychology, and his past includes a "felony robbery conviction, two DUIs and misdemeanor domestic battery in which his aging mother was the victim...."

The article ends thusly:

"The defendant choked and punched his 80-year-old mother," [Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Maria ] McCarthy said in court. In 1993, Roth was sent to traffic school for disregarding stop signs, McCarthy said.

Roth's attorney, public defender Susan Smith, said her client is unemployed and on disability. Roth recently received a degree in gerontology, Smith said.

Emphasis added.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006


A student at a public high school in Plainfield, IL, a far southwest suburb of Chicago, faces an expulsion hearing next week. Not so meaningful in itself, perhaps, so let me trickle out the details.

The hearing has been called because the student posted on his blog at that his district, District 202, had bullied and threatened him. The ACLU has insinuated itself into the controversy.

At this point, the meaning of the hearing begins to clarify: the student is being, if not persecuted, at least being made an example of. Schools have recently become aware of MySpace and Xanga, and are increasingly adopting policies that allow them to influence the content of student web pages. This student, it would seem, may be simply be a victim of poor timing, falling between the period when students believed they could say anything and the period when students understood that officials at their school be checking their site.

Now let's add this: on May 2 the student wrote, without mentioning the school by name, that "I feel threatened by you, I cant even have a public Web page with out you bullying me and telling me what has to be removed." He added in the same letter, "Did you ever stop to think this will start a community backlash? The kids at Columbine did what the did because they were bullied.... In my opinion you are the real threat here."

The meaning of the hearing thus sharpens further. The school, perhaps prematurely, has decided that the above quote constitutes a threat. I have to say that if the student didn't understand the implication of the above statements, then perhaps the school should reconsider the nature of it's English curriculum: the student is laying out for the district, the primary audience of a public letter, the events that might follow should the school not leave him alone. Those events contemplate violence against the school community. Further, the statements treat those events as the inevitable result of a bully's actions and as events for which the student cannot be held responsible. While American school officials have not distinguished themselves in recent years with regard to sensibly responding to potential threats, in this case a hearing about the student's words seems reasonable.

Now that a possible motive behind the hearing has been discerned, another detail. The student, after writing the above letter, had been suspended for 10 days. The mother angrily asked whether the school, since they seemed to think her son was such a threat, had contacted the FBI. The school said no. She then asked if they had contacted the Joliet police, and again the school said no.

So now, it seems to me, we are back to a victim-of-circumstance explanation. The school has decided that they need to draw a line, and given the extremity of his statements this student provides them with an arguably valid excuse to set policy.

The above is described in the Sun-Times. It adds some blather from the kid's ACLU attorney and some comments from a police officer about the difficulty police have discerning aggressive chest-thumping from legitimate threats.

I have no particularly strong opinion about the case. I suspect the student is a bit of a troublemaker who has discovered painfully that his actions might cause reactions that he cannot control, that authorities, when barked at loudly enough, may bite back. And what he is threatened with, contrary to his attorney's claims, is not really a threat to the foundations of free speech. If expelled, and at this point it is still an "if", his education can still continue; prison expulsion is not.

Still, I can't help but sympathize with his predicament. I find it hard to believe that he really meant harm. He is an ordinary example of a teenage male impressing himself upon the world with loud, aggressive words. All that is extraordinary is that people responsible for his safety and that of all of classmates have decided to take those words seriously.

The article did not mention the student's name, probably because he is a minor. This has the effect of preventing us from knowing about events prior to the May 2 letter mentioned above, as well as a related post from the day before. Both are clearly responses to a demand from his school that he remove something previously posted on his blog. Since we don't know what he was asked to remove, we can't really evaluate the character of his May 2 letter. I would have a radically different impression of the entire case if the school had asked him to remove a swastika than I would if they had asked him to remove merely typical, teenage, hyper-masculine babble.

The nearest I could come to finding the student was this blog of a Plainfield student. The student references the case in this
May 4 post, where she refers to the student facing expulsion as her brother. The article only briefly describes the May 1 post while quoting from the May 2 post. The blogger has a May 1 post that suggests to me she was also targeted by policy announced that day at their school or in days previous.

I'll close with the May 4 post from the blogger that I was able to find, including all the errors that were in the original. If there is any indictment to be brought in this case, it is of this girl's English teachers:

dear plainfield south or district 202,

now that my brother isnt in school for the time being you must guess that everything is going to stop...your wrong...we dont stand americans we have the right to speek our a matter of fact i think that im going to speek mine now on what i think about south...south is a school were they think that they have control over the world...wrong! they think that they can go around and acuse people of threatening us...hmm is saying if you dont take that post down we will be forced to suspened you...well then do it...your not is it that you can read our xanga's anyways...they are blocked at school grounds...hmmm which means that you took the time out of your personal lives to look and see what we are doing...kinda stupied move if you ask me...go ahead suspened me and prade around the school "the bad kids are gone. we wont ruin our perfect school code." you just dont want your school to be in the news about everthing that is wrong with it...for example...your dress code is violated everyday and yet you put the people who dont show skin all the time in CONTROL CENTER...hmm sounds like your only punishing a few...if someone isnt fallowing the school code then take action...dont take action on thoughs who do it once...i see girls with skirts up to their butts and they will walk right by a dean, asistant principle, or hall monitior without complaint...fix what you made wrong...all you want to do is pin point people...go ahead and suspened thoughs that speek out...we will always know that we are right and you matter what i say you cant stop me...

i hate plainfield south they are a bunch of power hungry witch hunters...

meghan h...

UPDATE: I was looking at some of the people who this blogger lists as her friends (hoping to find the blogger discussed in the article), and I discovered some interesting things. It would seem hate mail in the form of open letters to school officials is quite de rigueur in Plainfield.

First, this post from April 27 which includes this quite intriguing sentence: "Mrs. Mekenzie, or however the fuck you spell your name, doesnt matter becuase you suck at life anyway, i hate you too, and you know what, it really was magic that started that fire. MMAAAAGIC." This student then expresses the hope that the aforementioned lady will soon die. On May 1 he wrote the following:
well, no school for 14 days. exactly what i needed. seriously. this is exactly what i needed. but therepy. . .ehhhh

im bored.

I'm thinking suspension.

The next on the list was the blog of an extremely well spoken Christian student who was also on that blogger's list. Several others in that list were similarly well spoken and articulate.

Then, after a few more blogs, I decided to try a search for the quotes from the article. When I first started the post I had done such a search but didn't get a meaningful result, but I tried again, this time searching for a whole string from the quote and not just keywords. Jackpot.

Here is his blog, here is the May 2 post cited by the article, and here is the May 1 post. The blog also includes a "Suport Our Troops" chain-post that a number of blogs from these students contained.

The May 1 post included a reference to another student's suspension due to what he had included on his Xanga site; the names and dates don't seem to line up, so I don't think it's the same student as above, but I could be mistaken. While vulgar, the May 1 post is not really all that much besides one student venting. The May 2 post, though, is not misrepresented in the Sun-Times article. Prior to that, the blog is extraordinarily ordinary. It seems the kid is included in part of a crackdown, one that probably started after the fire he mentions, and that he has the benefit of an ACLU lawyer pursuing an aggressive PR strategy.

I said that my opinion of the case would vary accoriding to what he wrote prior to May 1. It's my peronal opinion that he probably shouldn't be expelled because he seems to a kid whose bark is worse than his bute. It's also my opinion that he won't be expelled, since this all seemed to start with some kids starting a real fire, kids who didn't themselves get expelled. But we'll see; the PR may backfire.

Here is one last post that describes what seemed to start all this excitement on Xanga, by a student who himself seems to have been suspended:
so yea as some ppl know goldy, kyle, miles.
goldy wants a vacation...from school.
kyle got suspened for lighting the b-room on fire and then suspened from the accadimy from putting a pic of the acc. buring down. on his OWN COMPUTER!!
miles wrote a letter to the school. and said to kiss his ass. well its the computer and im going 2 say what the usa is free ....freadom....freadom of speach. FIRST FUCKING ADMENDMENT.

UPDATE 2: Out of curiosity, I looked up the school report card for Plaifield South High School, which is the school where these events took place.

The school's average ACT scores are around 19. They are about a half-point below the average of the four high schools in the district, and about a point below the average for the state. Nationally, the average ACT score is usually between 20 and 21.

In Illinois, there are four performance levels used to judge students at a school. From lowest to highest, they are "Academic Warning", "Below Standards", "Meets Standards", and "Exceeds Standards". At Plainfield South, 45% of students were at the lowest two levels in reading, 57% percent were at the lowest two for math, and 53% were at the lowest two for science.

I have seen the test that is used to place these students in these categories. In fact, it is pretty much my job to be an expert at these tests. I can assure you that the phrase "Below Standards" does not do justice to the amount of ignorance required to achieve that rating.

There are 2,805 students at the school. (It has always struck me as insane, all of these giant high schools we have in this country.) The school is 72% white, 16% hispanic, 7% black, and 5% other.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Again, Never Again

Recently I wrote a post, stemming from an article in the National Post, about a law passed in Iran that required Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians to wear badges. The veracity of the story was subsequently questioned, and the National Post ran a muddled retraction.

Now, Amir Taheri, who had helped to fuel the story's importance, has written further about this law. It appears that the fog of the Iranian legislative process has confused many in the media, as the law, whose current status is detailed in Mr. Taheri's response, appears to be on its way to becoming a reality.

Once again, for those who missed it the first few thousand times, this is the kind of thing they were talking about when they said "Never Again".

Via this post at Power Line.

NCLB In Chicago

The Chicago Public Schools are planning changes to correct a massive number of schools that have failed to meet the standards set by NCLB. From the Sun-Times:

Up to a third of Chicago's public schools are supposed to undergo radical "restructuring" this fall after being branded as chronic failures by the federal No Child Left Behind law.

It sounds like CPS will be getting those schools into shape in no time!

Or maybe not. From the very next paragraph:
But for most of the schools, the changes won't be that dramatic; Chicago officials are adopting the least severe of five restructuring options allowed under the 4-year-old law. Their plans will be formally released today.

So the changes are radical but undramatic, which means they are not radical at all, which means the reporter buries the lede. Perhaps this will state the matter a little more clearly:
The Chicago Public Schools are planning to do the absolute minimum that they can possibly get away with to correct schools that have failed to meet NCLB standards for five years running. By doing as little as possible, CPS plans to circumvent the intentions of the law without actually breaking it, hoping that a new, Democratic administration in 2008 will relieve them of their burden to actually educate Chicago students.